The Hidden Beauty of Phnom Penh

You know how sometimes no expectations lead to something wonderful? That was the case with my visit to the capital of Cambodia: Phnom Penh! In this post I’m going to show you the most beautiful parts of this buzzing city that started my love affair for the wonderful country that is Cambodia!

The Hidden Beauty of Phnom Penh - Header

After a pretty funny bus ride from Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh (read more about it here), I arrived in Phnom Penh in the late afternoon. I shared a tuk tuk with another tourist I met at the bus stop to my hostel. Now the first thing that I found quite interesting when I got there was that all streets don’t have names but they are numbered. My hostel was on street number 322. Although it’s a bit odd, it makes navigating around very simple!

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My hostel was located in a very safe neighbourhood that was the most European I’ve seen in all of Southeast Asia. There were tons of trendy bars, hostels and the huge Aeon shopping mall that has a great food court and – hold your breath – Sushi! Food wise, I wasn’t that impressed with Cambodia, I found that there is a lot of Western food which can be nice after eating Asian food for a few months!

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Alright, let’s get started with my favourite sights and things to do in Phnom Penh, shall we?

Royal Palace & Silver Pagoda

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Before you visit, make sure you check the opening times, they are closed for almost 3 hours over lunchtime. Also, make sure you dress appropriately: long trousers and cover your shoulders. A scarf is always handy for those purposes! As there were three of us visiting together, we decided to get a guide which proved to be a fab idea since he gave us a very interesting, detailed tour of the grounds.

Phnom Penh - Royal Palace (4)

The grounds are separated by walls into four main areas: in the south, there is the Silver Pagoda, on the north side you’ll find the Khemarin Palace and the main square is home to the Throne Hall. The west side contains the Inner Court which is the private residence of the current King of Cambodia, Norodom Sihamoni.

Phnom Penh - Royal Palace (5)

The buildings of the palace were built gradually over time, and some were dismantled and rebuilt as late as the 1960s. But some old buildings dates back to the 19th century. One of my favourite buildings was the Moonlight Pavilion (pictured above) which serves as a dancing hall.  Phnom Penh - Royal Palace (6)

Near the Silver Pagoda, you’ll also find a gorgeous temple and numerous stunning stupas. The gardens are worth taking a slow stroll through, admiring the tropical flowers and plants that are beautifully arranged and kept immaculately.

National Museum of Cambodia

Phnom Penh - National Museum (4)

This is a great addition to your visit to Angkor Wat, either before or after. Not only is the building an incredible piece of architecture, it’s also Cambodia’s largest museum of cultural history and the country’s leading historical and archaeological museum.

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The museum is home to a vast collection of Khmer Art. Some of it dates to prehistoric times to periods even before that. There are also pieces of art that have been found in the  archeological excavations of the Angkor Wat temples.

Phnom Penh - National Museum (1)

We spent quite a lot of time in this museum and found it to be a good preparation for a visit to the Angkor Wat temples. It’s a very informative museum where you’ll learn about the ancient history and the Khmer empire.

Phnom Penh - National Museum (3)

Street Art

Unexpectedly, Phnom Penh boasts of street art! If you pay attention, you’ll find beautiful graffitis and wall art all around the city!

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One of my favourite pieces was the graffiti below picturing a Cambodian girl praying with traditional head jewellery and modern clothing. It’s located on the left side of the German Cambodian Cultural Center.

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Most of the street art is hidden away in tiny alleyways, so take a peak off the big roads and wander through the tiny streets that connect the big boulevards! Apart from the street art, it’s also beautiful because some alleyways are overgrown with flowers which gives it a mesmerizing atmosphere! Below are a few more street art pictures I took in the streets of Phnom Penh!

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The round-up

Where to stay:
Envoy Hostel (close to centre, good neighbourhood)
What to eat:
Treat yourself to a delicious French breakfast at Maison Eric Kayser, try Fish Amok in a local restaurant!
What to do:
Take a Tuk Tuk to Wat Phnom, walk back into town along the riverfront, visit the Royal Palace & the National Museum. A visit to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the Choeung Ek Genocidal Center (Killing Fields) is also highly recommended to learn about the awful recent history of the country.

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23 thoughts on “The Hidden Beauty of Phnom Penh

    1. Thank you! It’s a wonderful country, there’ll be more posts on Cambodia in the next few weeks, currently planning one about the beaches!


    1. It’s amazing and I loved every second of being there! You’ve never stayed in a hostel? It’s such a great way to meet other travellers and makes your budget stretch longer! The one I mentioned is basically like a hotel, very clean and comfortable, just with the bonus of plenty of young people! :)


  1. I live in Phnom Penh , Cambodia 🇰🇭 and I am proud and glad to see posts about my country! Thanks for writing about our nation :)
    Anyway, I’ve recently published about 3 Korean food which I recommended and would appreciate it if you check it out! :) thx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! You surprise me actually! :) sure thing! Mondulkiri and Rattanakiri, please come and visit these two places to have your eyes and mind relaxed by green nature and to explore more about our other Cambodian ethnic groups :)

    Liked by 1 person

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